In an age where nearly everyone has a Smartphone, we all know the signs. Someone on their phone at dinner instead of engaging with friends, browsing Social Media Apps instead of watching the Netflix show with your significant other, or getting into heated debates that soak up our time. These are some of the situations that I have seen or have been guilty of committing myself.
Many throw the word “addicted” around without much consideration of what that word means. If you are indeed finding that your Smartphone usage rules your life and is destroying your relationships, then addicted would be more appropriate. However, the vast majority of the population that use Smartphones simply have a bad habit. If you want to find strategies to break your Smartphone habits, then continue reading.
Disabling push notifications
Smartphones and Apps are designed to keep the user engaged. You can reduce the urge to check your phone by disabling push notifications. These notifications draw our attention back to our phones, especially if you tend to comment or post a lot on Social Media. Many of us live off push notifications and those red numbers that occupy the corner of our app icons. The dopamine release is what keeps us coming back, but this loop can be broken if you are determined enough.
Don’t post as much
Social Media has empowered millions of people to share their opinions whenever they feel the need. This has led to a lot of negative interactions, usually politically, on social media. I know I have succumbed to political debates, often ending with no one feeling good after. To avoid such situations, simply posting less, or avoiding certain subjects, can make the experience less emotionally driven. This drive is what takes over the wheel and makes us anticipate, even thrive off the inevitable notification that will follow during a heated discussion.
Narrowing down to real friends and family
Perhaps it is time to reanalyze why you are using social media, and who is really worth keeping as friends. Although unfriending may seem like self-inflicted isolation, do you really need to be friends with someone from high school who you never talk to and probably don’t have anything in common with? Many of the problems I experienced on social media were from individuals who I rarely see in person and never talk to on a daily basis. Since narrowing down my feed to those that I am closest with, I can tell you that my social media experience is far more positive now.
If you want to get even more drastic, you can simply cut ties with the apps that you spend the most time on. There are Apps that analyze your usage, but you can also see what apps are consuming the largest portion of your battery. The next step would be deleting these Apps, which will ultimately allow you to spend less time engaged with a screen. This doesn’t solve the problem of opening up a Web browser on your computer and logging into social media that way, but it can prevent your mobile phone from constantly being glued to your hand.
Returning to a bygone age
The previous generations were able to live perfectly fine without Smartphones—so can we. Naturally, not having a Smartphone is out of the question for most of us but finding new ways to detach ourselves will only improve our day-to-day experience.
If you want to challenge yourself even further, I recommend taking a camping trip into the wilderness without any technology. A few years back, I went backpacking into the Sierra Nevada Mountains and was completely detached from the digital streams we all drink from.
At first, hearing the deathly quiet wilderness was shocking, especially for someone who was used to sirens and the cacophony of rush hour traffic. But after taking a few deep breaths, this isolation by nature was a welcoming detox to the digital dopamine we all consume.